Saturday, 29 August 2009

St Kilda day

It's a long time I've blogged, for a variety of reasons. I decided St Kilda Day would be a good time to restart - with some photos from my visit to St Kilda a few years ago. It's an amazing place and I'd love to go back sometime....

There's several interesting looking programmes on TV today, tomorrow and Monday to celebrate St Kilda day. Sadly, they're on BBC Alba so most of Scotland can't see them!

More photos on my website at

Thursday, 4 June 2009

At the races

I've wanted to go to the races for years and years ... in fact, probably since I read my first Dick Francis book about 25 years ago. I finally made it yesterday!

It was a 'Summer Fun Raceday' at Ayr - £5 advance tickets for the grandstand - so even though I didn't get out of uni until almost 4pm, at £5 a ticket I didn't mind missing some of the races, and this was my last chance of going as I'll be back in Orkney by the time the next race meeting is on.

I quite enjoyed the experience - it was definitely interesting to see what went on, watch the horses parading before the start, the jockeys mounting, down to the start line, the race, then back to the winners enclosure and weighing in. The lack of atmosphere surprised me - there wasn't really any. Too small and unimportant a race meeting I guess. I can imagine that for something like the Scottish Grand National there would be a good atmosphere.

It was difficult to find anywhere to watch where you got a really good view of the races. I think most folk probably go for the atmosphere, the betting and the beer! The bars were busy and have lots of screens in them so you probably get a better view of what's happening in the race from there!

I'm glad I went anyway, something else ticked off my list of things to do someday.

Monday, 1 June 2009


As I had a lot of work from the placement to get written up and handed in this morning (first day of induction week) I couldn't go on the KKC (Kyle Kayak Club) weekend to Tayvallich - so I went to see KKC (Kirkwall Kayak Club) instead. KKC had an Orkney team in the Scottish Canoe Polo Championships at the Falkirk Wheel.

I had a great time - I'd never been to the Falkirk Wheel before so I found that really interesting, and I really surprised myself by how much I enjoyed watching the polo. Orkney won every game I watched which probably helped! It was a gorgeous sunny day as well (I think a lot of people would have got a bit sunburnt if they weren't very careful!).

I've still to sort the photos properly - that'll happen when I have more time - but here's a wee taster for just now.

Orkney scoring a goal

Another Orkney goal...

Lack of updates

I've been far too busy and stressed during the last 2 weeks of my final placement to post any updates here. However, that's me now finished the placement - and I passed!!!! Passed the final hurdle and galloping down the home straight now .... just some pieces of work to hand in today and that's pretty much it - a newly qualified teacher!!!!

We've got Induction Week now - a full week of lectures, workshops, etc getting us ready for having our own class in August.

I'll be returning to Orkney in 2 weeks - with mixed feelings about that - and am getting an operation on my right wrist in 2 1/2 weeks - so this next wee spell is still going to be busy as I've got to get everything packed and get the flat totally cleared out.

Off to uni for the day now, will post some more later.

Friday, 15 May 2009

You win some, you lose some...

After my last post about the cheese, here's another about food. I was horrified tonight to discover that Walkers have started adding MILK to their salt & vinegar crisps. They were my favourite flavour - and about the only crisps I could eat. And I loooove crisps.... Definitely not amused!

Why on earth do companies insist on adding things like milk and yeast to EVERYTHING as a flavouring? I really can't understand the need for this. One of my favourites is 'sea salt with crushed black peppercorns' flavour kettle chips - why on earth should they need to contain yeast??? Kettle foods obviously think they do! Grrrr.

That's now After Eights I can no longer eat since they started adding butterfat to them. Bournville I can no longer eat since they started adding butterfat to it. Green & Black's Ginger chocolate (and probably all their other flavours too) I can no longer eat as they've started adding milk to it. And now Walkers crisps too ..... Maybe someone is trying to tell me something about healthy eating ....

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Cheese on toast !!!!!!!

After several years with no cheese - I had cheese on toast for tea tonight !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I saw a lactose free cheese advertised a few weeks ago, and finally one of the local supermarkets in Ayr has started stocking it (Morrisons). It's pretty good. It's not quite Orkney cheddar, or Arran cheddar, but it's MILES better than all the dairy free cheeses I've tried. It's a little rubbery in texture eaten 'as is', but melted onto cheese on toast it's really good. It smells like cheese, it melts like cheese, it tastes like cheese. Yippee!

Monday, 4 May 2009

About time I posted again

Thought it was about time I posted here again. My wrists have been a little worse after seeing the specialist so it's been enough coping with placement without trying to do any extra like posting on my blog.

The first week of placement has gone well. Busy, tiring ... but fun. I'm still really enjoying it - despite all the hours spent every evening on paperwork. It's a holida today so that meant an extra day for all the planning and writing up, so I was able to take a little time off over the weekend. My friend Lorna came down to Ayr for the day - she's been working in Canada since I moved down here, so it was great to catch up.

Weather's been horrible today - cold and wet. Not exactly a nice day for the beach .... Ayr's getting noticeably busier now, with lots of folk out on the beach at all times of the day. And the ice cream vans have been out - and a giant inflatable ski slope (was going to go back and get a photo of it to post but I guess with the weather today it'll not be out!).

Monday, 20 April 2009

A Dragon's Eye View

I've been meaning to upload these for ages - I went to visit Morag of Irvine a few weeks ago. She looks across to Arran.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Weekend in Arran

I was over on Arran and the weather was just gorgeous. Warm, sunny .... and a beautiful clear, still evening on Saturday.

I was really wishing I was the one out there in that kayak!

It was still lovely today, although a bit hazy. We went for a walk to King's Cross - I didn't even need a jumper. Warm Arran days are so much warmer than warm Orkney days...

I somehow found the discipline to stay inside and work solidly both ways on the ferry! Term starts again tomorrow ....

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Kite surfer

Spotted Andrew about to go out kite surfing at Scapa, so we stayed to watch - and took a few photos.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Spring has arrived!

The weather forecast was totally wrong and we had a gorgeous day yesterday. It was actually warm enough to work in the garden wearing a t-shirt! It felt really spring-like, with the daffodils out and lambs in the fields.

We made the most of the weather and headed off with our kayaks. My first trip out this year!!!

Lots of seals....

My wrists survived it not too badly. Kye decided it was a good opportunity to test out towing techniqes, so that gave em the opportunity to do a few quick stretches on the way back into the wind - without being blown backwards and having to work twice as hard afterwards, which tends to negate the effects of the stretching!

It was still so nice after lunch that Kye headed back down to the beach to go snorkelling.

Again the seals took an interest!!

Then it was out to the garden, cutting grass, bonfire ..... and we rounded off the day with fish & chips eaten on the pier! It felt like a real holiday!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Paddling in the rain

The weather's not been very great since I got home for the holidays. It's mostly been raining; however we had a lovely calm day the other day when the sea was flat (rare for Orkney) so Kye went out for a short paddle, asa 2nd 'test drive' of a 2nd hand boat he's thinking of buying. He'd already been out in rougher weather, but I hadn't yet seen the Sirius out on the water. It's a nice looking boat!

Spot the inquisitive seal!

PS Have no idea why the font has changed above from the usual one but no matter what I do it won't let me change it back!!!

Friday, 3 April 2009

End of term

It's the end of term, and although I've got a lot of work to do over the holidays I was too tired to get anything sensible done, so I went for a walk along the coast to Greenan castle instead.

Same kayaker as last week - DW's friend Alan.

Looking back to Ayr from Greenan Castle.

Getting ready for a nice sunset.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Mossgiel Ploughing Match

I got up early (the new 8am - yesterday it would have been 7am!) and got a few hours work done so I could go and see the Ploughing Match at Mossgiel, Mauchline. It was a lovely sunny day - but I was glad I had gone in the morning as the wind picked up later and it got really cold.

I really enjoyed it -there were quite a lot of entires in the ploughing match - and also stalls, food (including haggis, porridge & an entire spit roasted pig) and vintage tractors, etc. And there was a birds of prey display ...

Although I had got really cold at the Ploughing Match, by the time I got back to Ayr I was warmed up, and it was still such a nice day (& I was celebrating end of placement) that I headed down the coast to Culzean and spent a few hours walking round the gardens.

Now I'm trying to catch up on the rest of my write-ups....

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Peaceful evening in Ayr

I've had a lovely day. Woke up early and got some of my 'post placement' work written up ready to hand in on Monday. Then I headed off up the road to visit my wee nephew. Had a lovely time playing with him in the house and out at the park (it was cold!!!), followed by a fish supper for tea, then headed back down to Ayr. It's a lovely, peaceful evening - I got back in time to catch the last light in the sky and the crescent moon above Arran. Now I'm sitting typing up more notes from my placement ready for handing in on Monday. I'll be spending a lot of tomorrow doing the same thing I think...

End of placement

I really enjoyed my last day with the class. It turned into a real fund day for them as they had swimming, and it was their last swimming lesson so it was a fun session with the floats.

Then it was back to school and some language work, before the "topic party" - celebrating our Scotland topic and my last day all together. They had taken it really seriously - some of them brought clothes to change into (tartan dresses or party dresses!) and they had rehearsed their entertainment. One of them had made home-made shortbread, so with that, my shortbread and irn bru and the entertainment we had a great time. We had some presentations from pupil groups about aspects of their topic work, then a slide show and Scottish music - where they were able to demonstrate their learning by pointing out features, etc on the photos. Then 2 pupils entertained us with Scottish tunes on their fiddles, we had a great recitation of a Scots poem complete with actions, and then a whole group performed a song they had written for me!!!! And in keeping with the theme, they had used Scots language. It was great!

In the afternoon we had PE which was also a really fun session. The teacher did a game called "mattress madness" with them. There were a lot of good learning points in it, but it was also a whole lot of fun.

Several of the pupils gave me lovely cards they had made, and wrote messages for me saying how much they would miss me. And 2 of them had made me a book describing some of the work we had all done together over the last 5 weeks. It was great - and also demonstrated what they had learned.

It's going to be really strange on Monday, having no class to teach and instead sitting at lectures for 6 solid hours with only a 20 minute 'lunch break'.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Last day tomorrow...

I got my report from the school so I've now passed my placement - only got to submit my targets and wider aspects to my tutor for final checking.

I had the class on my own for the whole day today!!!!!!!!!! And I survived it!!!! I really enjoyed it actually. Stayed at school until almost 6pm, but that's all my marking done and my planning done for tomorrow. I'm looking forward to tomorrow (got them all on my own again) - but I'm sad too that that's me finished with that class. My Maths set made it to the room ahead of me and quickly wrote a goodbye message on the board, saying they'd miss me...... And they were using mini whiteboards in maths and kept writing messages about missing me. Awww.

Anyway, I'm going to award myself a well-deserved evening off now and watch Monty Halls on BBC i-player, with a glass of wine.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I went over to Arran on Friday evening. It had been another lovely day, and I was hoping the weather was going to hold. Saturday started off a bit dull - but we headed out for a walk anyway - and gradually the cloud and mist lifted, the sun came out and it got warm. I was just wearing a t-shirt after a while as I was too warm!!

We had a lovely walk up the footpath to the top of the Brodick hill, then out across the new forestry track towards Clauchlands Point. It's really lovely now that the views are opened up.

We then headed over Dunfion, where we got great views across to Goatfell and into Brodick Bay.

By the time we got back along the front in Lamlash there was blue sky with hardly a cloud in sight.

It was a lovely, relaxing day for me before the hard grind of the last week of placement.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ayr sunset

Thursday was a beautiful evening. I couldn't bear to just stay in and work, and decided that it didn't really matter if I had to stay up until 1am to get all my work done, I just had to get out and enjoy the lovely weather. So I went for a walk along the beach.

It was so calm... I was really enjoying my walk, watching the birds and the sunset over the sea. I spotted a lone kayaker - and felt quite jealous, wishing I had my boat with me down here - it would have been a perfect evening for a calm, relaxing paddle, enjoying the wildlife and the scenery. Instead I watched from the shore, and snapped a few photos of the kayaker in the sunset sea.

The kayaker can be seen in the distance here - he (she?) was quite far out from the shore. The kayak is just visible if you look hard - at the top right of the sea in the photo.

I was just hoping that the weather would hold out for another 2 days for my trip to Arran on Friday evening....